Friday, July 7, 2017

Age of Sigmar : A Two Year Perspective

730 days, three armies, 756 models painted, countless games played.  No matter how you define time with your Hobby it is a fact that we have had Age of Sigmar for two years now and what has those past few years looked like for all of us in The Mortal Realms?  I hope to share my view on the past few years and my hopes for the following year to come in today's post.

In order to grasp where we are now, we need to look back at where this all began.  The ending of a world.  I won't go into the full details of the End Times, but it was decisive in the community at the very least.  Some players like myself really enjoyed the unfolding events and the drastic changes that let Warhammer Fantasy go out with a proper bang!  Others did not like the changes to the gameplay and fought hard to hold on to what the game was and avoid what it might become.  As that world ended we also so a community end along with it.

Rules and Preorders came out this day for the Game we love

When Age of Sigmar was released there were those who were hesitant.  Some people outright left the Hobby or the game and a few went to make their own game to continue the torch of rank and flank fantasy battles.  A very small group, myself included, picked up the game day one and began to build and search for anyone who wanted to play.  The release was not smooth or handled in a smooth way in regards to Public Relations and Marketing.  It is clear with the recent release of #New40k that Games Workshop has seen the issues and corrected them for how they launch a game and when Age of Sigmar dropped they were still what we consider "The old GW" as opposed to "The New GW" they have become.  Either way, the community shrunk, drastically and there were very few safe havens for those of us wanting to play and talk about Age of Sigmar.  Then Twitter saved the day as the community gathered there and we could all enjoy each others hobby and games played and discuss anything and everything in The Age of Sigmar.  This foundation of the community would grow in the following years as we have seen.

One of the biggest issues was the lack of a point system to allow players to play pickup games and have a fun and relatively balanced game.  In the U.S. this is a large way in how we play as with such large regions we rely on a community driven standard on what size army to carry along to an FLGS in order to get a game going quickly.  While it is important to have a discussion with your opponent before a game for many reasons the need for a point system and general points played at saves a lot of time as part of the conversation would be solved before it began.  We saw a number of point systems develop to help give us what we need.  SDK, MO-Comp, etc... all came about from within the newly forming and still small community.  We heard about these systems through a few different channels via Twitter, Podcasts, and Blogs.

We saw a large number of Podcasts and Blogs being created as well.  Some have survived and going strong while others silently disappeared and a few have decided to take a well-deserved break to focus on life outside of the hobby.  A few over in England really took the bull by the horns and worked directly with Games Workshop in order to create The Generals Handbook.  Heelan Hammer, Bad Dice, and Facehammer were all involved and are still involved with each iteration of the book.  When The Generals Handbook released it was a game changer.  Suddenly interest for the game was growing and people wanted to play.

Shortly before this time is when Games Workshop came back to Facebook and social media.  We saw the creation of the Warhammer Community Team as it is now through small videos here and there.  After a while, we saw Warhammer TV develop with daily painting tip videos, weekly streams, and success in taking the wind out of rumor sites and posts online.  The availability of Age of Sigmar was at an all time high.  I could hobby while watching live games and let us not forget the Warhammer Age of Sigmar App for tablets and Smart Phones.  It has changed since its first iteration, but for the better.  We can view all the rules, unlock points, and build our forces conveniently on our phone with added options such as being able to name and take custom images of our models to print out the lists.  While this was a great change to the app we cannot forget Tony P. and his gift to the Age of Sigmar world with Scroll Builder, which is now hosted and incorporated into the Community Site.

Games Workshop has also stepped up their presence at independent events across the globe as well.  They offered great support to the LVO with Terrain on top of running the Age of Sigmar event as well as streaming.  They continued this trend into Adepticon and soon Nova Open over here in the States and South Coast GT, Facehammer GT, and soon Blood and Glory in the UK.  They even brought back their own Age of Sigmar Grand Tournament with multiple Heats throughout the year.

While the community team has been driving forward we have received plenty of updates to our Armies in an ever evolving Battletome format that keeps getting better.  We saw the conclusion of the initial Campaign "The Realm Gate Wars".  We had a fantastic Summer Campaign with The Season of War.  A full Skirmish update has come out and a full Path to Glory supplement is on its way.  We even had the announcement of the next version of The Generals Handbook (2017).

All of this has inspired many great pursuits, projects, and events from the global community.  We have seen more Grand Tournaments come about with Nashcon, SoCal Open, Midwest Meltdown, Battleshock Bash and of course the Global Event of Coalescence.  We have seen many groups get together to grow Age of Sigmar even more with support and acknowledgment from Games Workshop which was unheard of just a few years ago.

While we have been through a bit of a lull as #New40k was being developed and released I am sure we are right around the corner from much more Age of Sigmar and honestly, the small lull was a bit a nice break to cool those Hobby engines a bit for what is next.  I can't wait to see what is coming this year, please be Aleves, and as a community, we should be excited and rally around this game we love along with each other.  The Age of Sigmar Community is one of, if not the best, Wargaming Communities out there with a great back and forth between us and Games Workshop.  The Warhammer Community team are a small group of wonderful people doing great things and we are a large and passionate audience that could accomplish even greater heights by working together as we have been doing so far.  Consider what you might be able to do for your local club or possibly a larger area of your region to grow the awareness of Age of Sigmar and build your community beyond where it currently sits.

Just a small part of the friendships I have made in this Hobby (I need pictures with more folks!)

On a personal note, I want to say thank you to everyone I have met within the past few years through this Hobby and this game.  This game and hobby have become so much more to me through all of you.  I have made what I feel like are friends for life all due to my love of rolling dice and painting little toy soldiers.  It's humbling to think about, but it makes me very glad to know how welcoming and supportive we as a community are to one another.  Finally going to GT's and conventions this year has really opened up the Hobby world for me and I encourage everyone to attend at least one in the coming year.

I am sure I didn't even cover half of everything, but it was enjoyable to just let the memories flow and I hope you enjoyed this little recap of the past few years.  Perhaps I will add more in a follow-up post at a later time if I feel there is more to be added, but for now, I will leave it here.  May the next year of Age of Sigmar be even greater than the last and until next week, Happy Hobbying!